What is a Safe Stack System for Loading Freight?

safe stack system

Damaged freight is a pesky problem that many shippers have to deal with on a daily basis.

However, regardless of what you do to protect your freight, there is nothing that completely eliminates the possibility of accidents. But it isn't only shippers who are faced with this problem. Many carriers also proactively seek out ways to protect their client's freight. After all, any damage to freight impacts the carriers performance rating even if it was not intentional.

One method that has come along to help reduce damage and save the day is the Safe Stack system.

Safe Stack is basically a loading platform that helps shippers and carriers efficiently stack freight inside of a cargo container. In theory, the Safe Stack system will permit freight to fit more securely, reduce shifting while in transit, and also improve the off-load time. While the system is still being tested and has not been 100% accepted by the entire logistics community, it does show potential for rapid expansion sooner than later.

So, let’s take some time to introduce you to the Safe Stack system in today’s Redwood Logistics blog!  


How Does the Safe Stack System Work?

The current version of the Safe Stack was introduced by an LTL carrier about five years ago. The concept has been used unofficially in freight movement for several years, however.

Essentially, it’s a loading system that is built inside of a container or shipping trailer. It is secured inside the unit to keep freight secure while in motion.

When carriers use the system as intended, it can improve delivery and loading times, keep freight protected, and reduces damage while on road. The idea is that the system will produce fewer damaged freight claims, shippers experience less damage and delivery delays. Furthermore, carriers receive better ratings as a result of reduced freight damage. This platform is truly a win-win for everyone.


This is how the safe stack system is used with LTL or FTL shipments:

  • All freight is safely secured on solid skids or pallets.
  • Larger freight (typically in drums) are loaded toward the front of the trailer, which provides a solid base for the safe stack.
  • After the first pallets are secured, the loading team will apply a deck above the primary pallets on the front of the trailer – assisted by load beams. Sheets of plywood are then installed above the load beams, where smaller boxes of loose freight are stacked and secured. This provides additional support and reduced shifting while movement.
  • When the primary ‘stack’ is completed, a second row is created. The only difference with the second row is that the freight is stacked slightly higher, again, to reduce shifting. Depending on the size of the trailer, and the size of each pallet, there can be up to 5 rows of freight in a container.
  • With each row that is built, freight is staggered and strapped to the floor and the walls of the trailer. Finally, freight is wrapped with shrink wrap – as a final layer of protection.


The Pros and Cons of this Stacking System

After reviewing how the freight is loaded, it would appear logical that it’s a rather incredible way to secure freight inside a trailer or freight container. However, there are some pros and cons that should be considered and addressed to provide transparency.


Some of the PROS of using the Safe Stack System include:

  • Carriers and shippers both benefit from improved delivery rates without freight damage.
  • Both carriers and shippers save money by not having to replace damaged freight, which improves profitability.
  • The recipient is rewarded with viable freight they can use – without delays in receiving or having to set up return shipments.


While it appears that using the Safe Stack is a no-brainer for carriers, there are some hurdles or CONS to using them:

  • It takes a lot of time and revenue to get started. Safe Stack infrastructure is costly and time-consuming to install inside of a container. Plus, once you use the safe stack system, the container can only be loaded via this method. In the end, many carriers are not willing to invest the time, people, resources, and most importantly – money.
  • Safe Stack training takes more training. The main problem with this loading methodology is that not all freight is equally sized. This introduces the reality that freight loads must be calculated, and adjusted for maximum safety, but also equal weight distribution.


Final Thoughts

The theory of safe stack systems is viable and a great way to reduce most freight damage while in transit. Of course, shippers should also consider that the way they load freight onto pallets can also reduce shrink. If you’re a shipper and would like to learn more about proper freight loading techniques, contact Redwood Logistics today!